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First exhibition of artist Wayne Gonzales' work in Spain opens at CAC Málaga
A woman pases by US artist Wayne Gonzales's work 'Waiting Crowd 2008' at an exhibition inaugurated at the Contemporary Art Center in Malaga city, southern Spain, 18 November 2011. The exhibition, running until 22 January 2012, is the first in Spain dedicated to Gonzales and displays ten of his paintings, two of them never shown 'Seated Crowd 2011' and 'Slingshot Boy'. EPA/JORGE ZAPATA.

MALAGA.- “Art is political per se” Wayne Gonzales has noted on more than one occasion, although he seeks to avoid standard viewpoints in order not to be considered a political artist. The CAC Málaga is now presenting the first exhibition of this artist’s work in Spain and one that includes two previously unexhibited works, Seated Crowd and Slingshot Boy, both of 2011. The dark backgrounds of Gonzales’s crowd scenes, with their sketchily defined faces and brushstrokes that create seemingly immobile, inexpressive figures, leave the viewer to decide on the true meaning of the work and we cannot know if these are images that depict some type of demonstration or whether they simply show people sitting down and waiting for a concert to start.

For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga: “The references to mystery and political conspiracies and to the dynamics of power are boldly revealed in each canvas, manifesting a slightly obsessive desire on the artist’s part to declare his intentions emphatically. Dark backgrounds usually provide the backdrop or setting, in which Gonzales creates a mystery or a story that – like one from the script of a film noir or police film – has an emotional charge located in very specific details in the painting, as in the faceless crowds in Waiting Crowd (2010) or the boy seen from behind pointing his catapult at the horizon in Slingshot Boy (2011). There is always a centre of gravity in his paintings that moves the viewer and invites him or her to follow the line of the brush. It is an allusion to something that remains to be revealed.”

Gonzales’s manner of depicting crowds indicates his desire to demonstrate the power of public opinion and the effect that it has on society. He was born in New Orleans in 1957 and grew up in the climate of the investigations following Kennedy’s assassination, for which the prime suspect was Lee Harvey Oswald who was also from that city. While their lives never crossed, the fact that these investigations took place in his native city aroused Gonzales’s curiosity and he devoted part of his subsequent output to reconstructing the story of Oswald.

In the late 1980s Gonzales moved to New York where he began to express his artistic interests, initially working with photographs and other documents that recorded the most important historical events of the previous five decades. The origins of the images, which are generally taken from the internet, gradually became of secondary importance as Gonzales manipulated them with Photoshop to the point where they became almost unrecognisable. The intensity of this process has led to the artist himself to forget the origins of some of his images. “I don’t know where an image will take me and in fact some of them only acquired meaning at a later date”, he has said.

In addition to figures and crowds, the exhibition includes images of spheres that are based on photographs of the sun taken from an aeroplane in the 1990s (Untitled, 2009). Gonzales appropriated this image and multiplied it to create a grid of suns that resemble the lights on a film set. In principle, these works might not seem to fit within the argument of the present exhibition but Gonzales’s intention here is to create a different optical effect and a unique visual experience.

The exhibition reveals a versatility of styles on the artist’s part, which come together in two states to form an overall idea. As a result, the large-scale images of crowds depicted in tones of brown and grey lead on to paintings of great luminous spheres.

Since 1997 Wayne Gonzales has been the subject of numerous solo and collective exhibitions held in the USA, Europe and Asia. Recent solo exhibitions include those held at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London (2010), the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York (2009), the Seomi Gallery in Seoul (2008), and the Patrick de Brock Gallery in Belgium (2008). In October of this year Gonzales’s work was shown at the New Orleans Art Museum.

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